The sweat rolled off my brow as I struck my shovel into the rocky ground and threw out a spadeful of dirt. For 30 minutes Cecila, David and myself had been digging a hole in a front yard into which we would soon drop a tree, which was sitting a few feet away, its root system wrapped within an earthen ball confined in a burlap bag.
The city's "green department" had dropped the free tree off onto the homeowner's property two weeks earlier. Five days ago a city crew had marked the exact spot where the balled tree would be planted by spraying a circle onto the homeowner's lawn with white paint.
This was a Saturday morning volunteer effort for the three of us diggers. We were tree huggers, do-gooders, giving back to our community.
It was time to roll the tree into the hole and cut away the wire holding its burlapped root ball together. The homeowner's door opened and a woman came out.
"Hey, thanks for coming, it's so nice that you're here to put the tree in," she said as she walked up to us. I thought maybe she might offer us green-earth do-gooders who couldn't figure out anything better to do on a Saturday morning some ice-tea or water, and I was thirsty.
"Lissen, we were thinking and we decided we don't want the tree after all. I'm sorry, but we've just changed our minds."
Dave spoke up, because he's the city employee. "Okay, ma'am, we can just pick the tree up on Monday."
The hole we'd spent thirty minutes digging was between us and the homeowner. I turned my back on her and leaned on my shovel.
"Oh thanks." She went back inside her house and closed the door.
I turned to Dave and said, "He didn't even have the balls to come out and tell us; he sent his wife out instead." Cecila laughed knowingly.
We filled the hole back in, placed the scalped turf back on top and left. I made sure that every toaster-sized rock we'd laboriously dug out of that hole made it back in there.
I think Republicans live in that nice house on the southeast corner of Hillwood Avenue and Brook Drive in Falls Church. They coulda told us little folks to stop before we had finished digging that hole.